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Thursday, December 20, 2018

BOOK EXCERPT: Song of the Boricua by Olivia Castillo (Fiction)


Olivia Castillo  

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Independent
Publication Date:  July 28, 2018
Pages: 335  

Puerto Rico an island of contradiction, serves as an enchanting backdrop following three generations of women.
Elena: Resilient and ambitious, but trapped by duty to her children. Maria: Passionate and headstrong, but married to a man she does not love. Josephina: Optimistic and romantic, but in love with an alcoholic. Isabella: Clairvoyant and spiritual, but denies her heritage and roots. Like the land these women are held hostage, unfulfilled and unable to find their happiness. Each generation like the land is cursed. Can they defy the powerful bond of the curse and free themselves to find love everlasting? New author, Olivia Castillo, like the jibaros of the past weaves a tale of sorrow and joy. Castillos’ fiction is timely, offering a glimpse into the islands rich history and offering insight into the story that has plagued women for all of time, the search for true love and acceptance of self.


Book Excerpt 12 

Mornings like this one weren’t easy, but at least Elena knew what to expect: the hard work, the studying, the silence from her father. Little did she know how much she took his presence and influence in her life for granted. Like a machete slicing through coconut, life would change for all of them in an instant in the year of Elena’s fifteenth birthday. Unbeknownst to them, their time with her father was limited, and the end of life as she knew it drew to a close with speed that would have overwhelmed her, had she realized what was coming.
            One evening as Miguel was walking home from selling another load of sugar, he was hit with a wave of pain so intense his breath left him. Clutching his chest, he collapsed, his last thought being only that he would not be able to be home for dinner that evening. His sudden death shocked everyone, and Catala had to take over to make ends meet. She was in shock, overwhelmed by grief. Her days became a blur. It was too painful to truly acknowledge that her husband was gone.
            Catala tried to get work as a teacher but to no avail. She also tried to use her connections with La Treinta, but by then most of those women had left Puerto Rico or were struggling themselves. The time for revolution had passed for Catala. They moved into an even smaller home—barely a house—nearer to Old San Juan, which had more job opportunities.
            She went to work for an American factory doing needlepoint but could barely make a living with her meager earnings. Their savings had disappeared. Elena had to stop school to work also, sewing clothes for wealthy Americans while her mother worked at the factory.
            Still, Elena refused to give up on her dream. She continued to study from the books she had after her sewing was done, and on the rare nights that she could escape, Elena would wander through the zigzagged streets of Old San Juan, mingling with the diverse crowds, lost in her own little world.
            She would hear the sound of a horse and carriage on the cobblestone taking its passengers to some mysterious destination for the night and wished to be in that carriage going to a fancy dinner. Even though there were motorcars, horses and carriages were still used, and she imagined there was a sort of romance to riding in a carriage, taking in the sights as the horse clopped along. She would walk the extra half mile to El Morro, the famous old fort, just to have some extra time away from her problems at home.

Olivia Castillo is a New York native. After going to the prestigious Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, she went on to study graphic design at Otis Parson's College in Los Angeles. Along with being an entrepreneur, she is the mother of three children, and grandmother of two. When not writing or spending time with her family, she travels the world and paints. Songof the Boricua is her first novel.


Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book Virtual Tours and Olivia Castillo! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Monday, December 3 – Book Excerpt 1

PUYB Virtual Book Club

Tuesday, December 4 – Book Excerpt 2

Bound 2 Escape

Wednesday, December 5 – Book Excerpt 3

Stacking My Bookshelves

Friday, December 7 – Book Excerpt 4

What is That Book About

Monday, December 10 – Book Excerpt 5

My Fiction Nook

Tuesday, December 11 – Book Excerpt 6

C.A. Milson’s Author Blog

Wednesday, December 12 – Book Excerpt 7

T’s Stuff

Thursday, December 13 – Book Excerpt 8

Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, December 17 – Book Excerpt 9

From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, December 18 – Book Excerpt 10

Laura’s Interests

Wednesday, December 19 – Book Excerpt 11

Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic

Thursday, December 20 – Book Excerpt 12

That’s What She’s Reading

Wednesday, December 26 – Book Excerpt 13

A Title Wave

Thursday, December 27 – Book Excerpt 14

I’m Shelf-ish

Friday, December 28 – Book Excerpt 15

The Writer’s Life

Monday, December 17, 2018

LSBBT GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY: Fierce, Funny, and Female by Marti MacGibbon (Memoir)

A Journey Through Middle America, the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy


Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor
Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages


A National Award-winning Memoir!

This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self.

As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.

WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)

┃ Amazon    Baker and Taylor 


“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews 

“An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus Reviews

Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review

“MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

Marti Mac’s Top Twelve Texas Influences and Things Learned

1. Friendliness. The Lone Star State’s got this down! My Texas friends taught me the true meaning of friendship and how to be a better friend. And Texans showed me what is means to be a true friend forever.

2. Mesquite wood is the best for barbecue. And it’s the worst to cut through, especially if you get whacked by one of those big ol’ mesquite thorns.

3. Music. Texas has given the world tons of rock, country, blues, R & B, hip hop, and pop stars. When I got to Texas, I was down and out. I needed music, and the Lone Star State gave me lots to choose from.

4. Food and Cooking. Texas showed me how to grill anything, barbecue all kinds of meats, bake pecan pie, cornbread, fruitcakes, and more. I learned the correct way to fix fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, fresh salsas, pico de gallo, chile con queso, guacamole, and chicken fried steak, among other things.

5. Never give up. That’s one of the best life lessons I ever learned, and I learned it in Texas.

6. Work hard. Play harder. Repeat.

7. You can see just about every kind of life and landscape in Texas: mountains, rivers, creeks, ocean, beaches, bright lights, big cities, small towns, wide country spaces with magnificent starlit skies, all kinds of weather, bayou, desert, all kinds of wildlife, wild flours, and wild night life everywhere.

8. Laugh in the face of challenges, adversity, and failure. Then fight on through.

9. You can build your strength by combining it with toughness, kindness, and flexibility. And your strength will last.

10. Texas taught me what it means to “work smart.” When you believe in yourself, think for yourself, and stand up for yourself, you’re working smart.

11. Be generous. If someone asks you for help, help them. Stand up to bullies. Help your friends, and help strangers, too. Don’t be afraid to show generosity to a colleague or even a potential competitor.

12. Bluebonnets are gorgeous.

A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram  
 ║ Goodreads  Amazon Author Page  YouTube 



Each of Three Winners Gets a Signed Copy of the Book PLUS:
$100 Spa Finder gift card + $25 Starbucks gift card + Moroccan oil sample collection SECOND PRIZE:
Estee Lauder Limited Edition Gift Set + $25 Starbucks gift card
$25 Starbucks gift card.
DECEMBER 12-21, 2018
(U.S. Only)

a Rafflecopter giveawayBest of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Marti MacGibbon! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!


Author Interview
Guest Post
Guest Post
Scrapbook Page
Guest Post

   blog tour services provided by

Thursday, December 13, 2018

BOOK REVIEW + EXCERPT: Winter at the Beach by Sheila Roberts (Cozy Romance)

Moonlight Harbor #2
Sheila Roberts

Genre:  Women's Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin/Mira
Publication Date:  October 23, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

Take a wintry trip to the harbor in this holiday novel. The town of Moonlight Harbor needs to convince tourists that the beach is still the place to be—even when the sunshine goes south for the winter. Jenna Jones, new proprietor of The Driftwood Inn, has the perfect idea: a holiday festival called Seaside with Santa. Jenna is happy to throw herself into planning the event. With all the decorating, preparation and extra reservations at the inn because of the festival—and with two wonderful but very different men hoping to claim more of her time and her heart—Jenna is busy. Busy, but happy. Even with her troublesome ex in the picture, life feels as close to perfect as she’s ever known. Until the weather turns her festival into a farce. Suddenly Mother Nature is not only raining on Jenna’s parade, the old bat’s trying to blow the floats and their princesses out to sea. Soon everyone is without power and the road out of town is blocked. And Jenna has a full motel. After the generator conks out, she’s not so sure she and her guests will make it through to the New Year in one piece. But with a little pulling together and a lot of holiday spirit, everyone might find that life—and Christmas—is always good at the beach.


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

Once again, this is another fabulous book by Sheila Roberts and a solid sequel to the series!

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the story still focused primarily on Jenna rather than make her an outlier while a previous secondary character took the spotlight, as was the case with the author's Icicle Falls series. But this decision feels fitting as Jenna's drive and enthusiasm continue to inspire, showcasing just how important this community has become to her as well as the hotel's welfare. In hindsight, it seems silly that the town wouldn't have already had a holiday festival available to drive tourism during the winter, but whether she thinks so or not, Jenna has truly cemented herself as a leader that will definitely put Moonlight Harbor on the map! They need her just as much as she needs them, and I can't wait to read more!

There are plenty of tear-jerking moments, but I love how the author is able to find the humor in it all without losing the sense of compassion we all need to feel in order to face such tragic circumstances. The story never loses its ability to convey a sense of hope that powerfully comes from the understanding of those who have also experienced similar situations if not worse. And in the author's deft hands, these fictional characters become masterfully relatable and delightfully engaging. 

Happy endings come together in a heartwarming tapestry that makes this a perfect selection to curl up with this season! Plus, the included recipes will set your mouth-watering and have firing up the oven to bake up all those cookies just in time for Santa! 

Jenna Jones, who manages a vintage motel, the Driftwood Inn, is sure her idea for a holiday festival will bring business to her Washington coast beach town of Moonlight Harbor. Let’s see how her proposal goes over with the Moonlight Harbor Chamber of Commerce…

 “Okay, that takes care of old business,” Brody said. “Now, I think Jenna has some new business.”
Oh, boy. She could hardly wait to see what Susan would have to say about this.
She cleared her throat. “Actually, I have a suggestion for a way to bring down more visitors during our slow time.”
“We’re all for that,” said Patricia Whiteside.
Susan clamped her thin lips together and gave Jenna a look that dared her, the newbie, to come up with something.
Jenna’s nervous twitch put in an appearance. Don’t blink. She blinked one last time and cleared her throat again. “Well, I was just thinking about other towns I’ve visited in the past and one that came to mind was Icicle Falls.”
Susan rolled her eyes. “The cheesy German town.”
“A lot of people find it charming,” Jenna said. “It’s awfully pretty, and they’ve done a great job of making themselves as authentic as possible. They always have something going to get people up there. In fact, I did some research online. They have festivals all year long, including a chocolate festival. Their tree-lighting ceremonies on the weekends in December bring in thou- sands of people.”
“So, are you proposing we have a tree-lighting ceremony?” Susan mocked.
“No, but I am proposing we have a holiday festival.”
“We just had a festival in August in case you forgot,” Susan said snidely.
What was with this woman anyway? The town had done a good deed by putting on a festival to help Jenna raise money to restore the Driftwood after she experienced a financial setback. It had been such a success that the chamber had decided to make the Blue Moon Festival a tradition, with proceeds going to help other businesses in town in need of assistance. Jenna had benefited and other local businesses would as well, and Susan resented it? She was a crab in the pot. If she couldn’t succeed, she didn’t want anyone else to, either. And everyone knew her shop wasn’t doing that well, especially now that Courtney was selling her own designs over at the Oyster Inn.
Well, pooh on her. Jenna handed papers to both Tyrella and Brody to start passing around the table.
 “People love festivals. Remember how many came down for the Blue Moon one?”
“That was in the summer,” Susan reminded her.
“I know. But people also love holiday festivals. We’re looking for ways to get visitors down here in the winter. Why not put together a giant holiday party in Moonlight Harbor?”
Patricia Whiteside was reading Jenna’s handout. “Seaside with Santa, that’s cute. And I like all the suggestions you’ve made for activities. I really like the idea of making use of the pier.”
“The weekend before Christmas?” Susan objected, frowning at her handout. “Who’s going to want to come to something then? People will be getting ready to go see family, and they’ll be finishing up their shopping.”
“Why shouldn’t they finish it here?” Jenna argued. “We have all kinds of cute shops. We have great places for them to stay while they shop and plenty of restau- rants where they can eat. They may even want to stay here for the holidays. All we need is an event to lure them down. A festival could do it. And who doesn’t like a parade? Look how many people turn out for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.”
“Look at the floats they have in that parade,” Susan countered. “What sort of floats would we be able to put together down here?”
“Okay, maybe not the most impressive parade ever,” Jenna admitted, “but I bet we could come up with some- thing.”
“I could get some of my employees to dress up as mermaids,” said Kiki, “and stick ’em on a flatbed truck strung with fake seaweed.” She grinned, clearly taken with her idea.
“We need more for our Moonlight Harbor Queen and her princesses to do,” put in Nora. “They love riding in those old convertibles. You’ll let us use your vintage Caddy, right, Ellis?”
“Well...” Ellis hesitated. “If it rains...”
“Which it probably will,” said Susan. “Come on, people, be practical. You know what it’s like down here in the winter, all wind and rain.”
Patricia pooh-poohed that objection. “We’ve survived plenty of storms.”
“Well, I think it’s a bad idea,” Susan said, scowling across the table at Jenna.
Maybe it was. Jenna’s left eye began to twitch.
“I think it sounds great,” said Elizabeth MacDowell. She and her twin sister, K.J., were new members of the chamber. They’d opened their arts and crafts store, Crafty Just Cuz, in September, and it was already one of Jenna’s favorite places to hang out.
“We do need more business in the winter,” said Cindy Redmond. “There’s no getting around it. And doing something for the holidays could be fun. I say we give it a try,” she added, and Jenna’s eye stopped twitching.
“We’d have to get moving right away,” Nora said, pulling another sheet of paper from her yellow tablet. “Who can help?”
“I can,” said Ellis.
“Me, too,” Brody said, smiling at Jenna. “Jenna, it’s your idea. You’ll have to chair the committee.”
“Me?” she squeaked. Not that she couldn’t take charge. She was a firstborn, and Responsibility was her middle name. (Although her sister, Celeste, would probably argue that her middle name was Bossy.) She didn’t have a problem with rolling up her sleeves and getting to work, but she also didn’t want to offend old- timers like Susan Frank. “I’m sure someone else...” she began.
“Your idea, you have to do it,” Susan goaded.
Jenna raised her chin. “I can do it.” She’d survived rehabbing the Driftwood Inn. How much harder could it be to organize a festival?
In three months. Blink. Blink, blink, blink.
“Do I have a motion that we sponsor a Seaside with Santa Festival for the weekend before Christmas?” Brody asked.
“So moved,” said Ellis. “I’m with you, kid,” he told Jenna.
“I’ll second,” Nora said and reached across the back of Tyrella’s chair to give Jenna’s shoulder an encouraging pat.
“All in favor?” Brody asked.
“Aye,” chorused almost everyone.
“Nay,” Susan Frank said. “I’m telling you all, this is a bad idea. Make sure you put that in the minutes,” she told Cindy.
“Motion carries,” said Brody. He smiled down at Jenna. “Looks like we’re going to be putting on a holiday bash.”
“Holiday disaster,” Susan grumbled from her side of the table.
What did Susan know? Blink, blink, blink.

USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.


Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book Virtual Blog Tours and Sheila Roberts! It is always a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

Monday, October 22

Book Feature & Tour Kickoff at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Interview at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, October 23

Book Feature at I’m Shelf-ish

Wednesday, October 24

Interview at The Writer’s Life

Monday, October 29

Interview at Literarily Speaking

Wednesday, October 31

Book Teaser Feature at PUYB Book Teasers

Monday, November 5

Interview at Blogger News Net

Tuesday, November 6

Book Feature at What the Cat Read

Wednesday, November 7

Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Thursday, November 8

Interview at Straight From the Author’s Mouth

Friday, November 9

Book Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, November 12

Book Review at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews

Tuesday, November 13

Character Interview at Pimp That Character

Wednesday, November 14

Book Feature at Syllables of Swathi

Thursday, November 15

Interview at The Literary Nook

Friday, November 16

Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, November 19

Book Feature at The Bookworm Lodge

Tuesday, November 20

Book Feature at Dawn’s Reading Nook

Wednesday, November 21

Book Feature at The Avid Reader

Monday, November 26

Book Review at Moonlight Rendezvous

Wednesday, November 28

Book Feature at T’s Stuff

Book Feature at I’m All About Books

Friday, November 30

Book Review at Book by Book

Monday, December 3

Book Review at Books for Books

Tuesday, December 4

Character Interview at Blogging Authors

Wednesday, December 5

Book Feature at Handcrafted Reviews

Thursday, December 6

Book Feature at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Friday, December 7

Book Feature at Nicole’s Book Musings

Monday, December 10

Book Feature at Reviews by Crystal

Wednesday, December 12

Book Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Thursday, December 13

Book Review at That’s What She’s Reading

Monday, December 17

Book Review at Simply Selina

Tuesday, December 18

Book Review at A Room Without Books is Empty

Wednesday, December 19

Book Review at The Book Connection

Thursday, December 20

Book Review at Literarily Speaking

Friday, December 21

Book Review at Laura’s Interests

Book Review at Stacking My Bookshelf

Interview at Book Marketing Buzz